kaberett: curled decorative end of curtain rail casts a heart-shaped shadow on a wall (heartfruit)
Things ending, things beginning

(In our beginnings are our endings; in endings, new beginnings; we love, and we anticipate our loss.)

I have been wearing Liminal all the way through these new years, these quiet spaces and held breaths and interstitial time. If I am that way inclined I can construct this particular round of painful period as a blood libation to the new year. I am writing this on the evening of the 29th, in the living room with the curtains open looking out to sea over my game of Scrabble (not that I can, in fact, look very far: tonight is clouded and the sky is dark). At some (or several, health permitting) point(s) in the next few days I will take myself down to the beach and my face will be crusted with salt and I will gaze out westward and the wind will bite me and the waves will throw themselves down at my feet, full of threat and promise (both the same; think two things on their own, and both at once).

In the ending of relationships I began to trust myself. In their beginnings I let go a little more fear. I gave people food and love and space to think. We made fire together. (From destruction, we brought forth warmth and light.) I took the peelings and the ends of my cooking, and from them for the first time I made compost; come the new year I'll plant seeds out in it.

I've been living with my housemate for very nearly a year now; we moved in together on the third of January. Cambridge is relinquishing her grasp on me, temporarily, to the Thames. I am still writing, still breathing, still weaving a family. I have laughed and I have kissed people who think I'm wonderful, and I've kissed people I think are wonderful, and I've read some good books and listened to some excellent music and I have loved fiercely and I have made art as only I can. I have helped show other people what they might look like to themselves whole, which is perhaps the greatest of beginnings in my power.

This is enough. Not in the sense of adequacy, but in that of richness: this is enough, and having survived the endings of my past I will survive those yet to come, and it's still the case that I don't know whether it's beginnings or endings that are harder.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
Probably no surprises here: I like forms that encourage being Clever, particularly with punctuation, hence my fondness for the poem in one of the collections of my childhood on the importance of punctuation that featured the lines:
PRIVATE?
NO. SWIMMING
ALLOWED.


Hence: my fondness for sonnets, and for villanelles, and for whatever that form is that's palindromic, I'll quote you one.

Read more... )

-- and finally, as for favourite non-English poets, I am afraid I am not terribly widely read! However, I am very fond of Meg Bateman, who writes in Gaelic and does her own translations into English (especially Lightness/[NAME], which is how I first came across her, and is referenced in several of my own poems more or less explicitly); Rilke, in German; Neruda; Anna Akhmatova.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Okay, this one is actually really easy: I pretty much don't have any thoughts on German cinema. Sorry!

The reason for this is that I find watching film of any description very intense, in terms of concentration and ability to perform audio-visual processing go. It's less bad for things where I'm familiar with the format and actors, which is how I manage to remain current with TV shows once I've got into them; it's less bad if I'm sat down to watch with someone who actively enjoys the material in question and is willing to sit down with me and be enthusiastic at me and tell me why they like it so much and be patient when I pause and go "wait, is this brown-haired white dude #72 or number #56?"

Which is to say: my knowledge of German cinema is only slightly worse than my (nearly non-existent) knowledge of Anglophone cinema. So, for context, I am pretty sure the last general-release Anglophone film I saw was Kill Your Darlings, okay, because queer poets + Daniel Radcliffe = Relevant To My Interests, and even that I only went to because I had company. (On which point, I would like to note again how impressed I am by the shot in KYD in which DR is on the opposite side of a stairwell from the camera, his torso's cut off the top of the image, his lower body's partially obscured by the railings, and he's fully clothed - and he manages, by means of wiggling one knee, to unambiguously communicate overwhelming mind-consuming lust. It is pretty impressive, okay.)

In this context: the last general-release German film I saw was Das Leben Der Anderen, and I adore it. I adore it sufficient that I have it on DVD; the only reason I don't show it to more friends is that my mum observed that it was cheaper from amazon.de including shipping than it would've been from amazon.co.uk, and failed to realise that this was because the .de version didn't have English subs. (Why haven't I seen more? Because it's harder, in this country, for me to find people who are willing to enthusiastically rec me German-language media and then watch it with me.) (The other difficulty is of course that the majority of spoken German is nothing like my home dialect or any of the varieties of German I get most exposure to, which means I'm also always contending with an unfamiliar accent, which means the audio-visual processing budget goes overdrawn more easily.)

Much more recently than that I have seen some indie shorts, a mix of English-origin and German-origin focussing on queer subcultures; I was less-than-impressed, but that was content- rather than language-specific.

Because of all of the above (processing issues leading to very low consumption rates) I don't actually have much by way of opinions on the technical aspects; I will notice if someone is acting particularly well (Orphan Black!) or particularly lovely things being done with camera and lighting work; but in general this is an area in which I know really very little.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I have managed, one way and another, to gather a very large number of totally awesome people, and I honestly don't really know how or why. It feels in very large part as though it is something I have lucked into.

Read more... )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Ahem. Well. There's a commission that's about 18 months overdue, which I will be working on properly over the next few days in Cornwall (IN THEORY >_>).

I will be teaching largest smallcousin to knit in the round with DPNs likewise; she wants to make a pair of mittens. I can but hope I've picked out appropriate yarn (she gave me a spec, I made a guess...). I am contemplating making a scarf for CN Lester's partner, who admired one I wore around them recently.

Less crafting, more practical: sewing the sodding buttons back onto all my duvets covers.

I very definitely mean to learn how to write up patterns for double-knitting and get the thing I've charted up on Ravelry, but I have been meaning to do that for ages and stalling because Stress. (Suggestions/reference material welcome!)

... thaaat's probably it for stuff I'm likely to get to any time soon. I do have a pile of yarn and a pile of patterns with Intentions (the former matched to the latter, even!), but currently I am pretty stuck on (1) guilt (2) possibly not having enough purple from that dye lot (3) fretting about RSI, so.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I am afraid that there is nothing terribly exciting about this; I was a horsey child and I still fundamentally really like horses. I have learned an enormous amount about body language and power dynamics and inferring intent from spending time around them; I've got stronger and more confident and more sure of myself; they're big enough to hug properly and enormously soothing to feed and to groom and to take care of. They're a set of interactions I am just uncomplicatedly good at, and it is such a relief, and they're a means by which I can still (though I haven't, and should maybe fix that) go out in hills and woodland and not exhaust myself.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
Per the tag, this year (after [personal profile] jjhunter) I aimed to write fifty poems, one a week with two off. The tag currently stands at 53, which is a slight underestimate (posts that contain multiple comment-poems only add one to the total).

Poetry is a thing I come back and back to. I fell in love with it, properly, during my GCSEs: Keats, who showed me how to write a certain quality of light; Carol Ann Duffy, whose poetry pointed out to me that I'm an abuse survivor; Stephen Dunn and Simon Armitage and Monica Ali and on and on; close analysis didn't kill the poems for me, it made them more alive. It taught me to look at the world differently. It taught me the value of saying & meaning two things on their own, and both at once. It made me more okay.

And then I picked up a copy of Staying Alive, and that was... more-or-less that. In it I found - among many, many others - Machines, which is significant enough to me that I'm going to get the final couplet as a tattoo; I met Mary Oliver's Wild Geese for the first time. The reason I am so drawn to "beloved" as a term of endearment is in large part due to Late Fragment.

We were encouraged to write poems during GCSEs, and I wrote a few. And then I... stopped, pretty much until the year I took off from university: I was scared of failing, to the point of shying away from making the attempt - but poetry (like so much else) can only be committed by those
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.

Read more... )

The greatest gift of all, though, is this: how often it is, these days, that I find myself reaching for a poem to express my thoughts and emotions (because by using poetry instead of my own prosaic present I get to call on the layers and the nuance and the intertextuality, and the meanings that flourish in the distance between author and readers) I realise that the poem I want is one that I have written.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
Sorry that this is going up so late, [personal profile] hollymath <3 I think probably it is going to be ten-good-things format, because that is easy on my brain and because I have a lot to be pleased about at the moment.
Read more... )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Well, let's see, there's the standard-ish stuff: every year my mother makes fruitcake and Christmas puddings, very kindly leaving out glacé cherries because I consider them an abomination, doing the marzipan and royal icing herself; Teebäckerei, whose recipe I have unaccountably failed to type up, which are biscuits with much of the flour replaced by ground nuts (usually a combination of walnuts and hazelnuts though almonds are also acceptable) and a small quantity of grated dark chocolate; as mentioned, my father makes around twelve dozen mince pies every year.

There is a Thing my mother and I started doing when we went hiking the summer after I turned 18, the summer before I went to university, the summer I decided I might be a geologist: we collected a small handful of cranberries and brought them back with us and froze them, and then come the Solstice and such we boiled them up with bought cranberries, on the general principle of holy water. (Er, for those less steeped in this stuff than I am: you add any amount of holy water to a vessel containing water that has not been blessed etc and the whole lot is rendered sacred. (This is a thing that never made any sense to me about Buffy: why would anyone buy multiple bottles of holy water! You just... add some more to the stuff you got out of the tap! Or like add it to the reservoir and BOOM. As it were.)

Other than that, the main traditional food is non-veg and as such I haven't eaten it in years. Discussion of meat preparation. )

Satsumas and clementines are a thing, from Heiliger Nikolaus on. Increasingly, cheese & crackers & port (my mother keeps getting asked to play the organ at weddings, which she detests because she is not terribly good at it, and being given nice port in payment).

Nusspotitze! That is also a thing that we make fairly regularly at this time of year.

And that is more-or-less that. If you would like me to elaborate on any points or discuss things I've failed to touch on, let me know! ♥
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
Alright, let's make-believe that I'm a tree.
So dream: what storms have broken me?
What fruits adorn? What loving scars
graffitied in my skin, how warped
or changed with time? Do I give shade and,
later, warmth? And most of all:
please say I'm safe. Please dream me sound.
kaberett: curled decorative end of curtain rail casts a heart-shaped shadow on a wall (heartfruit)
Oh goodness. Over the past few weeks I have (as has been obvious) been on a Vienna Teng kick: Stray Italian Greyhound, Hymn of Acxiom, The Last Snowfall (this is not the last snowfall ... but if I were that kind of grateful, what would I try to say?), Never Look Away (let me uncover the silver in your dark hair/the weight of your bones). Finding hope & wonder & looking forward.

Then Stars: No One Is Lost (put your hands up if you ever feel afraid!) and How Much More (I told you I was brave but I lied).

Before that: Seanan McGuire, Writing Again and Dear Thomas and Sycamore Tree and Cartography; and the Indigo Girls, Watershed and Least Complicated and Hope Alone; P!nk, Who Knew; CN Lester's new album, Sparks and Your Hands; a stack of break-up songs, as we go backwards in time.

Before that it starts to feel hazier and less immediate. But this, this is the music I have listened to most over the last little bit, this and the selkie song (Still Catch The Tide). Lots of things about, well, about confusion and about bravery and about finding beauty and about looking forward. Which, well. Yes.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
I have decided that my least favourite season is probably summer, though it was quite hard to work out: because binding becomes vastly more uncomfortable and because the UK is so staggeringly ill-equipped to handle hot weather, and it's only for a day or two at a time so you never really have time to acclimatise.(Summer in SoCal was fine! I got used to it and adjusted habits to cope! This is never possible in the UK.) It is sticky and I have to pay more attention to hydrating enough and temperature regulation is harder. (I mean, winter has its downsides - my hands get proper unhappy with wheelchairing etc - but on the whole they bother me less.)

THINGS I LIKE: the moments when I do get to just sit and absorb sunlight and heat and don't have to think. The plants all being sturdily enthusiastic and making there be flowers and fruit and, eventually, baby plants. Fresh raspberries and strawberries. The sea being warm enough to stick toes into. The length of the days. Long evenings. Open-air concerts and plays. Properly fresh vegetables. All the colours the sea goes. :-)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Perhaps the big thing for me is that I conceptualise myself as relying not so much on scripts as on roles. Figuring out new roles to play is generally the hardest; it's easy enough at this point for me to Nice White Posh (Disabled) Lady at shops and customer service if it'll get me the outcome I want (as discussed); it is easy for me to slip very quietly into the body language that cues other people to treat me as an authority figure (which I picked up via spending time around animals); it is easy for me to step through my specific scripts for teaching. ("Okay, please tell me if I'm going either too fast or too slow - and what's your background in X/what do you know about Y/are you comfortable with the concept of Z?")

New situations are harder: when I switch to a new role (being someone's PhD student! Meeting someone's parents for the first time when it is totally unclear whether they are thinking of me as a friend or a partner!) I have to feel out the shapes that are expected of me by trial-and-error, which is stressful. Mostly I handle it by asking lots and lots of questions about what I should be doing, but that is sometimes intrusive, so I flap around feeling sadly and anxiously as though I'm a failure. It is easier for me to act within paradigms I understand, and so on.

-- actually, that's a lie, I totally do use scripts some of the time. With doctors it's more obvious if I'm helping someone else prep for an appointment, but - it's a case of running through the plausible discussion tree (time-limited conversation with constraints on topic matter) and work out what we'll want to respond under various circumstances. But - working out scripts for myself, as opposed to other people? Not so great. Mostly for that I use Captain Awkward.

Which is the how, to some extent. As for the when -- mmm. Mostly I care less about what the situation "looks" like and more about what it feels like to me; if I'm getting stressed and clumsy and feeling unsafe in terms of just working in good faith towards a mutually-agreeable arrangement (which! happens a lot! I hate capitalism!) then I will slip into a-script-(or-role)-I-prepared-earlier. It's not really about the other party, to any extent.

Hmm. Perhaps not terribly clear. Apologies.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
... are dependent on my geographical context. In cities I like it for the first few hours and then find it enormously stressful, because it massively increases the difficulty of getting around (balancing becomes much harder; if I'm wheeling, control is hugely more difficult and my hands get soaked in freezing water and it's the worst thing).

Whereas: in mountains I adore it and even in relatively flat countryside I adore it. Basically, anywhere it's not going to get compacted to ice. Because it smells good (I love the smell of approaching snow) and it reminds me of glaciers and it makes the world blue and dazzling and -- yes. It feels like home, for one of my various definitions of home, and that is a comfort and a grace.
kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
In a whole bunch of senses [personal profile] jedusaur and I ~grew up together~ - we met in [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes back in the day, have met up in person a couple of times now, and did a lot of thinking about sexuality/gender/theology/fandom/ethics/etc in at least peripherally related ways; I know Julia's influenced my thinking (even if we haven't always agreed) & I'd like to think the reverse holds. ;)

-- which is relevant partly because I'm speculating about why she asked this particular question (when I could, you know, just have asked her, but hey!) and partly because I think it's useful context for how & why I'm framing my response.

Two key points, I think: (1) yes, becoming a more aware feminist has changed some of my attitudes to what I find funny and; and (2) no, becoming a more aware feminist hasn't meant I no longer have a sense of humour.

Read more... )
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
1. Mulled apple juice. I mostly don't consume alcohol, largely because I'm chronically depressed and adding a systemic depressant to the mix is just plain a bad idea never mind the fact that it makes my doctors cry inside, and first came across mulled apple juice when I was organising a winter concert in a Methodist church and trying to work out what we could serve with the mince pies in lieu of wine and suddenly it occurred to me that there was probably prior art on this topic. Because I am a bit awful (i.e. I resent paying that much of a mark-up when I already own all the possible constituent ingredients, plus I want to have a personal mix) I tend to make up mulling spices myself and stick 'em in a teaball; one of my vast collection of bay leaves (from my mother's tree, which did rather better in food mile terms when I was still living in Cambridge but whatever), plus whatever of star anise + cinnamon sticks + nutmeg chunks (I have some whole) + cloves + allspice + black pepper I feel like. Because I am snobby if I am doing this for myself I will get Slightly Nice Apple Juice, whereas if I'm doing it for a crowd I will tend to up the spices a bit and get cheap stuff (sorry, folk).

2. Hot chocolate. I have been ever-so-slowly working my way through a tin of Hotel Chocolat gingerbread hot chocolate I picked up in a sale a couple of years ago, and finished it a few weeks ago. And then smitten kitchen encouraged me to make my own hot chocolate blend, and I haven't quite got my act together to do so yet but you better believe I am going to. I will pretty much drink any hot chocolate going, but the darker & more viscous the better; I default to whole-fat dairy milk, keep meaning to try with hazelnut milk, and for bonus points have been known to whip cream with a bit of vanilla sugar and a splash of plum brandy and dump it on top. I've got very strong location-associations with this, too: the February week I visited the Black Forest near Freiburg with family friends, and was astonished by snowdrifts as tall as I was, and sat outside eating Apfelstrudel and drinking hot chocolate; and, a few years later, the German exchange to Heidelberg where a Starbucks was giving out samples; and cocoa at Guides; and Supper at the mouldering ancestral pile, where to this day at bedtime Papa will creak to his feet and make cocoa in the front kitchen for everyone present, and will offer you just a snifter of some liqueur or other to go with. Every time I make hot chocolate (I do it in a pan; I've never got the hang of microwaves on this one) I end up half-smiling, half-wincing about the time I heard Papa berating Mama for leaving the pan to soak instead of getting the milk fat out straight away; and I remember that I am perpetually baffled at people apparently not liking the taste of scalded milk, because to me it tastes like home and comfort and love and a house creaking gently in the sea wind and the sound of waves breaking down on the beach.
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
We are getting to the time of year that contains my favourite weather: blue skies and streaming sunshine and crisp air that turns you into a dragon and numbs your face just a little. I've been gently envious of the people getting frost - that doesn't seem to be a thing London is doing, just yet - but nonetheless I get bare branches and autoexfoliating plane trees and bark and bite to the air and -- yes. Yes. When first the air smells like ice, and such.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
Oh goodness, I've only been visiting since late summer, so I'm not sure I've actually got a terribly good handle on this! Definitely I have readers who are more familiar with the place than I am, so I encourage you to weigh in in comments, but--


Light through autumnal oak leaves, red and gold, against blue sky.


-- I adore the oak walk. I suspect I will adore it as much in spring with just-barely-green and summer with full leaf cover as I do in autumn, and I am going to enjoy it in winter too because bare branches are A Thing and I love how structural oaks are -- at which point that's not terrible helpful, because I've basically gone "Quercus are always amazing, go any time of year!!!"

I am similarly fond of gingko; there follow three photos from a few weeks back taken in fact on the A4 rather than in Kew, but -- there's a couple of gorgeous big gingko trees in the gardens, which are as might be expected spectacular in late autumn.

Read more... )

Kew also has an excellent collection of Wollemi pines, which are pretty much good all year round.

... honestly, I am pretty much an autumn person - it's my absolute favourite season, with some trees going bare and chestnuts everywhere and leaves beginning to turn and holly coming into its own and autumn crocuses - but I do also adore botanical gardens in the spring, so I'm looking forward to that especially too. The glasshouses are good all year round; I'm a big fan of alpines (which again I associate with late summer/early autumn) and of kitchen gardens (which I prefer in late summer/early autumn because that's when the majority of exciting things are fruiting), so! I am biased. I am hideously biased. But: lots of excellent trees, fantastic selection, Kew is very good, if any of you ever want to visit I am a member so get a guest in free, please do let me know.

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kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
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